The Minnesota Timberwolves rank second in pace (the amount of possessions a team has per game) this year. They are among three teams with a pace of over 100 possessions per game. No team has finished the season with a pace of over 100 since the 2010 Golden State Warriors. Many teams play quickly to take advantage of their youth and athleticism. This is true of the other two teams with a pace of over 100 this year, the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers. Unlike them, though, the Timberwolves aren’t really considered all that young or athletic. Their star players Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic all rely on elite skill rather than athleticism to do their damage. The Wolves are different than the Lakers and 76ers too in that The Wolves actually outscore their opponents in both per 100 possessions and per game measures, while the Lakers and 76ers allow more points than they score.
Even without the extreme youth and athleticism traditionally associated with fast paced teams, the Wolves play a fast game for some of the same reasons those young, athletic teams do. The Timberwolves’ high-powered offense can score at a high rate, and they believe having the most opportunities to score will give them the best chance to win.
Coach Rick Adelman loves running a fast paced offense, and his Houston Rockets and especially his Sacramento Kings teams in the 2000’s played at paces surpassing the fastest paces this year. This speedy offense has led to increased stats for Minnesota’s star players and very entertaining game play, but it hasn’t led to victories. The Wolves are just 11-12, right now.
The fact that the Wolves are scoring more than their opponents despite their losing record suggests that their record will improve throughout the season. The Wolves’ players love to get out and run, throw outlet passes and score off turnovers, so this fast game play does suit them. Their losses have mostly been in close games against good teams, so as they play weaker teams and grow accustomed to playing together, the Wolves’ fast play will pay off.